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Let me tell you something interesting.

Looking back a couple of weeks, we completed our Guiding Principles session with Fabric (read more about it here!)  The Core Value chosen by Rosalynn with a more of a link to me as a person was Relationships.  I have been trying for weeks to write about the value of relationships and why I think it was chosen for me – and I’ve been struggling with it a lot.  It should be easy – after all it was chosen because of the important role it plays in my every day!

I’ve had about 6 blogs written.  I’ve read them and thought “Who on earth wrote that because it couldn’t have been me!”  They’ve come across lacking in personality and I don’t think a lot of people who meet me would agree to that description of me.  In the middle of the 7th…or 8th… or 9th… rewrite, I had an AH-HA moment and figured out why I was sitting front row on the struggle bus.

Relationship are hard, completely unique, and ever evolving, so why would talking about them be easy?  Each relationship takes work to maintain and grow, plus it moves at it’s own pace. They are next to impossible to describe as each one is just so different.

Relationships in business vs. personal relationship are possibly even more confusing because of the whole “separating personal from businesss” thing. Heads up –  I’m really terrible at that.  I want everyone to be my real-life friend – telling me the name of their dog, where they grew up, and MOST IMPORANTLY what their favorite kind of food is.

So, since I can’t find a way to talk about actual RELATIONSHIBrandfolk in any clear and concise way, I decided I’d talk about the different “stages” of relationships and how they translate to the business world


I think we can all agree that this is how most relationships of any kind basically start.  Whether it’s a new kind of chip, a new restaurant, a travel destination, or another human – there is always the initial meeting, where you decide you MUST know more. I would say it’s basically the same with business.

A possible client reaches out and says, “I found you on the internet and it seems you have what I want.”  Or, you hear about a possible client and you reach out to them and say, “I hear you might be needing what we have”.  From there, conversation starts, commonalities are found, and it’s determined if a business relationship is worth being pursued.


We’ve made it past stage one.  We know we have some things in common and we must know more because we are surface level SOULMATES.

For us at Brandfolk, in my most humble of opinions, this is the stage of a business relationship that is the most important.  We have to make sure we are setting ourselves up for success with each and every client by learning as much as we can about them.  We have to test out communication styles & design styles.  We have to give them ideas that they didn’t know they needed or have never seen before.  We have to prove that we are different.

I really really really really really really like you.

The first dates when smashingly.  We still like each other enough to want to continue exploring the relationship.

For us at Brandfolk, this would be defined as a client coming back and saying: We like your ideas, your vibe is cool, and we want to buy something from you.  WOO.  We love this stage.  We are doing a really good job.  Now, we have to do a couple orders, prove that we can do what we said during the snack dates, and the rest is (hopefully) history.

We finish each other’s sandwiches.

We did it. We got through all the trials and tribulations of falling in like with each other.  We’ve built up a level of trust and are starting to read each other’s minds.  We are finishing each other’s sandwiches. (yes, that’s a well-timed Frozen joke) This is the goal of every relationship.

At Brandfolk, what we want this stage to look like with our clients is clearly defined expectations of each other (AND we know what kind of sandwich they like). They can send us a need and trust that we are going to come through for them without much conversation. We understand their brand and what they are trying to communicate to the world. We basically become an extension of their company.

Obviously, the above stages don’t always go according to plan.  Something can start off with all the promise in the world, and end in a flash of W.T.F. just happened.

There will be deal breakers.

There will be mistakes that can’t be recovered from.

You will find out that your end goals don’t line up perfectly.

Balancing all the relationships in life is practically a full-time job.

Relationships are H.A.R.D

But spending your time trying to find that diamond in the rough with ALWAYS be worth it. Even though it’s hard…. Especially because it’s hard.

The moral of this story is that I think I know why the word relationships was chosen for me – because I love relationships.  I love the stages of relationships and the challenges they bring.  I’m always trying to find a new relationship that I can yammer about to an old relationship.

Relationships shape a person – and a business.

I consider myself profoundly lucky looking at some of the business relationships Brandfolk has and knowing that I’ve had a part in starting, building, and maintaining those.  I consider myself even luckier that some of the people I cherish the most started off as business relationships and are now my friends.

Relationships are the best.

P.S. How ‘bout the fact that Shelby let me add .gif’s in here.  SWEET.

  • Shannon Kirby
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